Offline simulator allows virtual verification of ECU software in early development phase

February 01, 2012 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
In order to manage complexity with emphasis on the safety and reliability of electronic control units (ECUs), the automotive industry is turning to realistic early simulation. To meet this requirement, tool vendor dSPACE is offering a solution with its new dSPACE Offline Simulator which can simulate virtual ECUs on a PC. The Offline Simulator interacts closely with dSPACE products for ECU development and testing: ControlDesk Next Generation and AutomationDesk, giving users a complete tool chain.

To date, software architects had to rely on their own experience to assess the quality of their highly complex ECU software designs. Now, against the background of increasing complexity, they can simplify this task and reduce risk by creating virtual ECUs using special basic software to integrate and compile the ECU's application software, and then implement the virtual ECUs on a PC with the help of the dSPACE Offline Simulator. As a result, software architects are now able to simulate ECU software on a PC. They can perform consistency tests, check the plausibility of interfaces, and verify task scheduling at an early stage of the development process. And because ECU functionality can be tried out early on, it can be verified even before the first ECU prototypes are available.

The vehicle and component models, which are usually created with Simulink and used as environment models during offline simulation, can be reused in subsequent development phases. The same applies to the interactive experiment layouts created with ControlDesk Next Generation and to the software verification tests. Moreover, tests can be designed on a PC and then validated and optimized by offline simulation to save valuable testing time on a hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) simulator.

Experts know: The earlier the tests are performed, the easier and cheaper it is to correct any errors. Tests from classic HIL simulation can be advanced to an earlier phase and executed in the offline simulation environment. The dSPACE Offline Simulator is used to run realistic tests on a PC, including comprehensive simulation of bus communication and the basic software. This significantly increases the maturity of ECU software in early development phases.

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